Honour for historian who uncovered Tuam Mother and Baby Home mass grave story

The volunteer historian who uncovered details of a mass grave at the former Mother and Baby Home in Tuam has been honoured as a "fearless campaigner for human rights".

Catherine Corless was awarded the Bar of Ireland's Human Rights Award in Dublin on Thursday evening.

Ms Corless said she hoped the award would help give more survivors of mother and baby homes the strength to come forward to tell their story.

In 2013 Ms Corless discovered official records showing that 798 infants and children had died at the home in Tuam.

In March, a Commission of Investigation announced that it had found "a significant number of human remains" on the site of the home which had been run until the early 1960s by the Bon Secours Sisters.

Ms Corless believes most of the 798 infants and children are buried on the site, part of which had a local authority estate built on it in the 1970s.

Ms Corless said she was "truly honoured" to receive The Bar of Ireland Human Rights Award.

"My work campaigning on behalf of the survivors of mother and baby homes continues and I hope that this special award will give even more survivors the strength to come forward to tell their story," she said.

Catherine Corless after receiving the Bar of Ireland's Human Rights Award. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Ms Corless added: "With each and every testimony the truth is uncovered further and our campaign for justice to prevail is strengthened. I share this award with all the survivors, this is for them."

The Bar of Ireland's Human Rights Award is an initiative of The Bar of Ireland's Human Rights Committee and is presented to a person or organisation who has shown exceptional humanitarian service.

In 2016 it was awarded to the Irish Naval Service for their work on the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean Sea.

Paul McGarry SC, Chairman of the Council of The Bar of Ireland praised Ms Corless for her "incredible courage and determination in her advocacy work on behalf of the survivors of the Tuam Mothers and Babies Home".

"She has worked tirelessly on their behalf and has shone a light on a dark period of our history, passionately represented the victims and their rights at all times, often in the face of adversity.

"She epitomises the very essence of a humanitarian and is a very deserving recipient of this award," he added.

Thomas Creed SC, Chair of The Bar of Ireland's Human Rights Committee described Ms Corless as a "fearless campaigner for human rights".

He added: "She has done both the survivors and wider society a great service."


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